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astroturf

The Working Matters Coalition is a Democratic Astroturf Group

The Maryland Democrats “small business” ally is a fraudulent astroturf group that supports exclusively Democratic causes, staffed by Democratic operatives and backed by Democratic donors.

The Working Matters Coalition, also known as the Maryland Democratic Party machine, is the group behind the General Assembly’s job killing paid sick leave legislation. They like to tout that they brought small business to the table to create “compromise” paid sick leave legislation that is worse than the bills that failed to pass the legislature in the past five years.

However, the “small business” group they refer to, Small Business Majority, is nothing more than a Democratic Party front group that’s been churning out bunk research and alternative facts since 2004.

According to the New York Times, Small Business Majority has no membership.  The Times reporter noted the group’s “interesting” argument that in order for Small Business Majority to represent the small business broadly it could not represent any particular small business directly. This a direct contrast to traditional small business groups like the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Maryland Business for Responsive Government, and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, who have actual small businesses in their membership and opposed the Democrats paid sick leave bill.

Indeed the Times uncovered the left-wing partisan composition of the Small Business Majority:

“Small Business Majority is nonpartisan only in the most technical sense, in that it is not formally allied with any party. Informally, however, it is allied with the Democratic Party. Mr. Arensmeyer serves as a board member of the Bay Area Democrats, which describes itself as “a network of private citizens active in national Democratic Politics.” Since 2002, Mr. Arensmeyer has given generously, and exclusively, to Democratic candidates, according to F.E.C. records. (“I’ve voted for Republicans,” he offers.)

One of his top lieutenants served for 10 years as a Democrat in Alaska’s House of Representatives; another was affiliated with a Democratic Party reform group in New York. Small Business Majority had joined the campaign of Health Care for America Now (HCAN), which explicitly supports the (nearly exclusively) Democratic reform priorities, and whose coalition, as reader Paul noted, is basically a roster of Democratic constituencies.

But when Mr. Arensmeyer insists that his organization is not ideological, he appears to mean that it is not “conservative.” The whole project, frankly, seems fundamentally ideological, and clearly liberal. It’s received a leg up from Demos, the advocacy group that counts among its objectives “a more equitable economy with widely shared prosperity and opportunity” — no initiatives to foster Ayn Rand-style self-reliance here. (Demos serves as a fiscal agent, which allows the group to raise money as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.)

But the Small Business Majority has all the hallmarks of a shadowy interest group, starting with a name that conceals more than it reveals. Of course, that’s business as usual in Washington. 

Partisan indeed, as Small Business Majority’s Maryland representative is the former field organizer for John Delaney. And Small Business Majority’s research is suspect because their polling is conducted by partisan pollsters.

While Maryland Democrats played Washington-style politics, it was Governor Larry Hogan who offered a true compromise bill that simultaneously protected Maryland’s small businesses and offered sick leave to Maryland workers. You may agree with that position or not, but Governor Hogan was the only party negotiating in good faith. The use of this alternative small business group is evidence the Democrats were never interested in negotiating with Governor Hogan on a true compromise.

Remember that when out-of-touch Maryland Democrats and their machine allies claim that small business supports their paid sick leave bill, what they really mean are paid Democratic operatives support their paid sick leave bill.






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